While everyone is planning their Halloween costume and picking out what candy they want to hand out to trick or treaters, I’m the person who is impatiently staring at the calendar, giddily awaiting the start of the holiday season. Heck, I heard two commercials for holiday music stations on Spotify this week and I almost had a heart attack. (The good kind. I felt all fluttery and spacey.) I swear I’m not a fan of the seasonal creep but it’s Christmas and it’s happy and there are twinkly lights! How can you not look forward to that time of year… just about every single day of your life?
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories (edited by Stephanie Perkins), which features an amazing lineup of young adult writers, was released on the 14th of October (St. Martin’s Press). A little early, I know, but these books must come out so people can prepare their holidays lists with all the good stuff!
This is my official review:
MY TRUE LOVE GAME TO ME never feels like 12 authors set off to write 12 holiday-themed stories; instead, they created very realistic, dimensional stories that took on a life of their own with a sprinkle of holiday magic thrown in. Sure, there were a few I loved more than others but all in all it’s the quintessential holiday short story collection I’ve been waiting for and I’m about ready to buy it for everyone I know. – Estelle a.k.a. Santa (Sometimes)/Perpetual Elf, Rather Be
Understandably, there are major life lessons that come along with a story collection that boasts romance, Christmas trees, holiday meals, dysfunctional families, holiday plays, and more. Because it’s (almost) Christmas and I like to think of myself as a generous individual minus the bowl of jelly tummy (I do have rosy cheeks) I am going to share a few of those with you today. Enjoy! (Santa is watching you…)
Have I convinced you?
How about now?
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Tip: The UK version is just as beautiful as the United States release. I need both. (Santa, are you listening?)
Oh Yeah, Audrey by Tucker Shaw ( tweet )
Release Date: 10/14/2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Audrey Hepburn, New York City, Tumblr, Internet Friends
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)
Summary: Gemma runs away from her home in Philly for an Audrey Hepburn meetup she organized through her themed Tumblr page. She has an itinerary for following Audrey’s footsteps through her film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and finally meeting some of her internet friends face to face.
As someone who runs two blogs and meets people from the internet a lot, I could totally relate to Gemma, who decides to start a Tumblr page about Audrey Hepburn to help her get through a hard time. Through the Tumblr, she meets two friends, Bryan and Trina, who she talks to all the time but she doesn’t find herself really confiding in just yet. But they all plan to meet for the first time to see a monumental movie screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in New York City.
Sure, Gemma lies to her dad about where she is going but at this point, she needs a little space to do something on her own. And so their city adventure begins but never according to Gemma’s original schedule. There’s a shopping trip, a fancy auction, and the surprise visits of two other internet personalities she was not expecting. So instead of hitting all the Holly Golightley spots in Manhattan, Gemma is swept up in a magical evening with Dusty, a boy she also met on the internet. Does she make a choice to hang out with her friends or go on a once in a lifetime date with Dusty?
Well, you’ll see.
In a span of 24 hours, Gemma is forced to face a lot of truths: why she feels so close to Holly Golightley and Audrey Hepburn, how important these friendships are to her, and also coming to terms with the changes in her family life. While the strict timeline did cause me to feel a bit of suspense, I really wish there had been more time to learn about Gemma’s relationship with her father and spend time with Bryan and Triana, her friends who lived far, far away. When would they see each other again?! On the other hand, I liked how Shaw was not prejudiced over internet friendships being REAL because, in so many instances, they are and they blossom into these wonderful real life things.
Oh Yeah, Audrey! was a great New York City adventure, and I could imagine it as a really fun Disney Channel/ABC Family movie. It definitely inspired me to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s again, too. All in all, it was a fast-paced read that made me think a lot about fandom and making pals and what we flock to when we are feeling alone. I hope Shaw has another young adult book up his sleeve.
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Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner
See Also: Skinny by Donna Cooner
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: beauty and fashion vlogger, loss of a sibling, moving to a new state
Format Read: Arc received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)
Summary: Torrey, popular fashion and beauty vlogger, doesn’t know how to deal with the sudden harassment and criticism she receives from her followers after the death of her younger sister. Her family moves from Colorado to Texas to be closer to family, and Torrey has to figure out how to mourn her sister and move on.
Almost exactly two years ago, I raved about Donna Cooner’s Skinny, a book about a girl who undergoes gastric bypass surgery and deals with insecurities and body image issues, even though her physical appearance is changing. I really connected with Ever and felt super pumped to read Donna’s newest book, Can’t Look Away, about Torrey Grey, who is a popular beauty and fashion vlogger. The scenarios are almost completely reversed — Ever is a girl who had zero self-confidence and had to work really hard to accept and love herself. Torrey is popular and extremely well-known, but when her 12-year old sister is killed by a drunk driver, her character is questioned and she’s criticized for detaching and not addressing what’s happening.
But ultimately, the lesson is still the same for both Ever and Torrey: despite fame, beauty, body size, popularity, vlog views, etc., both girls have to learn to love and accept themselves despite any of those other outside factors.
Torrey was a more difficult character for me to relate to because her every move seemed calculated: How do I promote myself? How will everyone react to xyz? What can I do to gain more views and recognition? Believe me when I say I could relate to those feelings because I’ve dealt with that with my businesses and with Rather Be Reading. You pour so much of yourself into these projects and want people to love and appreciate it as much as you do. I think I’m in a personal place of wanting to be a blogger and a business owner, but also not wanting my entire life to be only those things. And that’s what I wanted for Torrey.
I wanted to see her mourn her sister and stop worrying about how to connect to the internet to see what people were saying about her. I wanted her comments to not be so snippy with her cousin, Raylene, who was trying desperately to forge a friendship with her. I wanted Torrey to not care quite so much about sitting at the popular table at her new school. Oh, and that boy she liked, Luis? I wanted to shout, “JUST GO FOR IT! Who cares if he’s “unpopular”!” Torrey had a lot of growing up to do, but I think one thing stands out. Sometimes when we’re in the midst of something deep, hard, and heavy, we find distractions to focus on. We fill our time with the mundane details so we can cast aside all of the hurt we don’t want to deal with.
In a nutshell, that was Torrey. It was easier for her to focus on being the girl she used to be instead of letting it sink in all the ways her life would now be changed without her sister. The growth does happen, but I wanted to see it happen a little less rapidly. And what about her parents? They were on the periphery of the story and we saw how they dealt (or didn’t deal well with their grief), but I felt there should have been a little more involvement with helping Torrey overcome her obstacles. She deals with Internet bullying and moving to a completely new state, and the death of her sister all by herself.
Can’t Look Away is so pertinent and has some really valid points and lessons. I, always the proponent for loose ends to be tied as much as possible, wish there were a few moments that felt a little more ironed out, but overall, this is another great contemporary by Cooner. Definitely looking forward to more!
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Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle ( web | twitter )
First book in a trilogy.
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Hollywood, love triangle, debut actor, friendship, romance
Format read: ARC given to me by Elena @ Novel Sounds. (Thanks!)
Summary: Paige is just a normal high schooler with her two best friends until she is plucked from her home to a movie set when she lands her first role in a big deal Hollywood movie. Set to star in a trilogy based on a best-selling book series for young adults, Paige deals with the ups and downs of her first role and the cute boys that come along with it: one that makes her feel at home on set and another who makes her feel a little off kilter.
Despite a few personal snafus (not enough family interaction and a love triangle), I had a total blast reading Famous in Love. I mean, a girl has her dreams come true before she even graduates high school and lands an insanely big role in a film trilogy. I was basically picturing a Shailene Woodley or Jennifer Lawrence the whole time I was reading and you know, you just can’t lose in that kind of reading situation.
Filming in Hawaii and away from her best friends and family, Paige is thrust into the movie world: getting screamed at by her director day after day, gossiping with her makeup lady, and waking up at the crack of dawn to act with the hot actor, Rainer Devon. Rainer is incredibly great to Paige, and tries to make her feel comfortable amongst all the pressure to make the movie a hit. I really liked him (even if I kept wondering when he would do something questionable) so this made it even harder when another heartthrob, Jordan Wilder, is cast in the other open male role. He’s more mysterious and standoffish but also a good guy and Paige can’t help this connection she feels to him. To both of them, really.
She’s living the life, right? Serle pulls off this whole love triangle in a real life and in a movie thing quite well. Even if everyone was falling for each other pretty quickly, I was sold. On who I have no idea but still. I could see the appeal of both guys. The chemistry Paige had with each of her co-stars was addictive and deliciously angsty in a way I haven’t felt in awhile.
Could Serle have dug a little deeper throughout the book? Totally. I was interested in Paige’s relationships with her siblings (their back stories were all well-presented) and I couldn’t imagine her parents not communicating with her very much as a minor in her first grown-up job away from home. If Serle would have folded these details in, there’s no telling how much I would be loving Famous in Love. Even so, for someone who fears starting a new series and isn’t a love triangle fan, this book was like a light and fun Hilary Duff song I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy.
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Hello there! It’s Friday!! Hooray! We are also more than halfway to Halloween, which I will admit is not a favorite holiday of mine. I’m more into autumn decor than ghosts and goblins but I understand that some love it more than Christmas and Santa. Gasp! (Just kidding.)
In the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve, I’m chatting about pumpkin beer. What a shocker; I know. I’m pretty particular about my pumpkin brews. Not too spicy, not too heavy (imperial pumpkins are not my favorite; they are darker and taste more like liquor). So I was really thrilled to see Southampton Publick House Pumpkin Ale at my supermarket this week. This is the brewery right near my first college (I’ve mentioned this before) and their pumpkin has the subtle flavors I enjoy so much: spice, pumpkin and vanilla extract. This beer is just like a liquid dessert.
(Tip: Before pouring your beer, line the rim of your glass with cinnamon. So so good.)
Now what about a good read to go along with that? Well, it’s getting cooler. How about 11/22/1963 by Stephen King? 849 pages of goodness to keep you totally addicted and wrapped up in your cuddliest blanket. This isn’t a typical “scary” King book; there is time travel, a man on the run, and what happens when one person gets so caught up in an alternate life. Main character Jake has to pretend in order to survive, and also fulfill his task of stopping the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Isn’t Halloween all about pretending?
Other things on my list as Halloween gets closer?
- Cooking Beer & Cheddar Soup (it’s so so good)
- Watching Hocus Pocus at least once
- Buying a little pumpkin for my desk at work
- Waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive…
Another recent beer winner: Shiner Oktoberfest and one I’m looking to try: Red Hook Pumpkin Porter.
Thanks for stopping by another #pubdate! Hope you enjoyed it & will share book/beer suggestions below! Cheers!!
Your hosts: Brittany’s Halloween Pick | Maggie’s Fall Pick | Andi’s Fall Pick